The EU Call of Duty roster shuffle was a very drawn-out process. Initially sparked by Joshua-Lee "Joshh" Sheppard's rumoured wish to leave Splyce to join good friend Stephen "Vortex" Allen on Epsilon, all the UK’s top teams started to go into panic mode when this move seemed to come in to play.
Jacob Hale takes a look at the Call of Duty roster shuffle and the effect it's having on the top British players.
The first major change was the replacement of Joshh on Splyce with Red Reserve’s Trei "Zer0" Morris.
Although Zer0 does not have as many Pro Points as Joshh, Splyce did not drop from their top spot in the EU pro point standings and are going into CWL Dallas as the highest-ranked European team and the team to beat.
The transition wasn’t so easy for Joshh though, who was believed to have been too expensive to buy out of his contract for Epsilon Esports, whom had already dropped Ben "Desire" Wright in anticipation of the move.
Joshh’s dilemma lasted a couple of weeks, where he even sent out this tweet, implying he may not be able to play for the foreseeable future:
Looks like I'm done playing for a couple months ☝️
— Joshua-Lee Sheppard (@BsportJoshh) February 28, 2017
Fortunately for both him and Epsilon, they were able to come to terms and he officially joined Epsilon on March 7th, 10 days before CWL Dallas takes place.
This move worked out to be extremely beneficial for Epsilon, who are now top six in pro points thanks to Joshh’s addition and, should they remain there, will qualify for Season 1 of the Global LAN League, which will pit them against the 16 top Call of Duty teams in the world right now.
At this point in time, Desire appears to be teaming with Team 3G, a team just outside of the top six who are still looking for an organisation to represent in the coming months.
As well as losing Zer0 to Splyce, Red Reserve also lost Rhys "Rated" Price to Elevate, leaving Red looking for two top players to keep them in the running for LAN League contention.
In their search, they managed to find rookie player Sean "Seany" O’Connor, formerly of Elevate, and Team 3G’s Niall "Niall" Sunderland. Although this sudden pro point deficit moved Red down into third place in the pro point standings, they have seemed to gel very naturally, placing first and second in the previous two 2K online tournaments.
"UK-based Call of Duty teams have long been the standard-bearers for European CoD, and our players are proving at every event why they are here to stay."
Elevate’s pickup of Rated from Splyce has proven to be not quite as fruitful, placing fifth to eighth in each of the 2K tournaments since the change.
Despite the growing pains, on paper this team should see some moderate success given time, with all four proving at times that they could challenge even the North American powerhouses.
One of the top UK teams that stuck together during this shuffle was Team Infused, who are currently second in pro points. They have frequently proven themselves to be more than capable of battling it out with top NA teams at international tournaments, beating the likes of Fnatic, Luminosity and Epsilon at CWL Paris.
The other top UK team is Fnatic, who have grown as a unit since they got together at the beginning of Infinite Warfare (more than maybe any other new team in the game).
With veteran Tom "Tommey" Trewen’s leadership, this team went from floating around the top 10 to being a clear top six team. They secured a first-place finish in the most recent online 2K tournament, and top eight at CWL Paris, where they managed to see off teams such as Elevate and NA dynamos Cloud9 and Luminosity Gaming.
UK-based Call of Duty teams have long been the standard-bearers for European CoD, and with the shortening skill gap between UK and US, our players are proving at every event why they are here to stay.